I was a pretty serious couponer before I moved to Germany. Boy, was I shocked when I got here. My first several months in country, my grocery bill more than tripled what it had been in the states. Finally I got my bearings and figured out a few things that helped me save money over here.
First, let’s talk about the rules at the overseas commissary.
1. The commissary (and PX) take coupons 6 months past their expiration date. So if the coupon expires 6/30/14, you can use it until 12/31/14. This is nice, because sometimes by the time coupons make their way over to us, they are expired already.
2. The commissary coupon policy allows for overage – yay! This means if we have a coupon for $2 off, and the item only costs $1.85, that extra 15 cents comes off the REST of our groceries. We get the whole $2 off.
3. The commissary does allow stacking – if you do it right. You can see my other post here about coupons and how to stack them legally.
But how do you get the coupons?
It is really hard to get good coupons over here. In my experience, people end up sending the ones they don’t want, so we don’t get most of the high value coupons.
Here are a few ways I collect coupons here:
1. Ask for them! I put out a post on facebook asking for friends to send me coupons, and several did!
2. Sign up at coups4troops.org and get matched with a coupon sponsor. My sponsor sends me a nice big box every few months.
3. Print them online – if you can. Many coupon printing sites block our German IP addresses, but you can use a VPN to block it. I use Hotspot Shield. It’s easy & free.
4. Buy them on ebay. Buy a set of 20 and remember – you have 6 extra months to use them!
5. Share them with friends. Find other locals who coupon, and pass the coupons around until you’ve all looked through them.
6. You can also pick up coupons various places around post, like ACS & the commissary.
- Shopping off post for food could save you money, if you caught a good sale. I’ve personally gone to off post grocery stores a dozen times, and the commissary is always cheaper. So I don’t go off post any more. There are lots of neat farmer’s markets as well. But again, those are not cheaper. It’s a fun experience, but the food costs more.
- Like I talked about in my groceries post, keep a price book and watch the sale cycles. You’ll get an idea of what the lowest prices are after a while.
- Cook from scratch – I buy very little packaged items. Everything from my taco seasoning mix to my cream of chicken soup is made from scratch. It can save a ton of money to cook that way.
I hope these tips helped a little. If anyone has something helpful to add, do let me know!